18 APR 21 | WHAT’S NEW, EGC 2020? PART I


During my time as a student in CU’s Environmental Design program, the word LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) was often thrown around – “LEED Gold building this” and “LEED Platinum certified that” could be heard as Professors shared case studies for sustainable buildings. I understood that LEED was a points based certification system created to help standardize and recognize buildings that go above and beyond in sustainability and environmentally friendly design.

What I didn’t know then, is that LEED was not the only sustainable building certification program – enter Enterprise Green Communities (EGC).

EGC was established in 2004 and similar to LEED, EGC uses a point based certification system to create a framework that promotes environmental quality, economic vitality and social benefits through design, construction and operations of the built environment.

Unlike LEED, EGC was developed specifically with green affordable housing construction in mind.

The EGC is designed as a set of prerequisites and optional points through eight categories:

Projects must achieve all mandatory criteria. New construction projects must also achieve 40 optional points and rehab projects must achieve 35.

Why is EGC important for affordable housing? Our government recognizes that providing healthy and sustainable buildings is important to the wellbeing of residents and their communities. For this reason, when a building is funded using federal funds, achieving EGC certification becomes a requirement.

As technology and advances in green infrastructure continue to develop, so do the requirements for EGC certification. This is why every four years or so, the EGC criteria is updated to keep up with the times.

So far, there have been five iterations to the EGC with the fifth iteration in 2020 bringing the latest revisions to the criteria.


Integrated Design

1.2 Charrettes & Coordination Meetings

Charrettes & Coordination Meetings now requires that the new collaborated meeting template is completed and submitted for certification.

1.4 Construction Management

Construction Management now requires teams to develop and turn in for certification an explicit education plan to ensure those on site understand their role in achieving the projects objectives.

1.7 Resilient Communities: Strengthening Cultural Resilience

Strengthening Cultural Resilience is a new optional criterion that has been added to the category as a way to enable developers to integrate community and resident participation in the development processes. Two options are provided. One option is to complete a Cultural Resilience Assessment or the other option is to convene a Cultural Advisory Group. This criteria was developed to help integrate the cultural identities, resident voices and the history of the community.

Location + Neighborhood Fabric

2.1 Sensitive Site Protection

Sensitive Site Protection has been revised to include more specific outlines and requirements for limiting development to sensitive lands designated as Ecological Resource Protection Zones (ERPZ). The new guidelines include:

  • limit new development within the 100 year floodplain
  • Converting and protection aquatic ecosystems like wetlands and not developing within 100 feet of those areas
  • Avoiding developing in areas that contain habitat for plant and animal species identified as threatened or endangered
  • Conserving agricultural soils by protection prime farmland

Certification will now required a ERPZ site plan to documenting boundaries of ecological futures present in the site.

2.15a Access to Broadband
215b Connectivity

Broadband Ready and Connectivity are brand new criteria additions that aim to help bridge the digital divide between rural and urban centers.

2.15a requires all new construction and substantial rehab projects in rural sites are designed to accommodate broadband for when the service becomes available.

2.15b is a new optional criteria that requires that all units and common amenity spaces that have broadband internet, provide at least 25 MBps Download and 3 MBps Upload internet speeds for both urban and rural areas.

Site Improvements

3.2 Minimization of Disturbance during Staging and Construction

Minimization of Disturbance during Staging and Construction has a few minor changes including an update in title and re removal of the exemption for infill site.

Changes to 3.2 also include revisions to the criteria to ensure healthy topsoil is conserved by requiring projects that are larger than one acre to implement the EPA national pollutant discharge elimination system stormwater guidance or local requirement whichever is more stringent.

Guidance for sites that are less than one acre has also been incorporated.

3.4 Surface Stormwater Management

Surface Stormwater Management that used to be optional, is now mandatory for new construction and rehab projects equal to or greater than 5,000 SF


Ivan Patino | Architectural Designer
18 APRIL 2021